Barista Champion of Peru

Editor’s note: As we approach the beginning of the 2014 World Barista Championship, which takes place in Rimini, Italy, June 9 “12, at the SCAE’s World of Coffee event, we would like to introduce you to the National Barista Champions who all worked incredibly hard to earn a position in this preeminent coffee contest. Profiles of all 54 competitors will appear on Barista Magazine’s blog between Monday, June 2, and Monday, June 9, and can all be accessed under the category header “WBC 2014 Rimini.”

Harrysson Neira
El Café de Harry

Peru's Harrysson
Peru’s Harrysson Neira

Coach: Thomas Schweiger

About me: I’m 24 years old, I studied culinary art and I like cook a lot. I live with my family, we are two girls and me. I have a coffee brand, roast coffee, for some restaurants and cafés around Lima, and this year I will open my own shop. I believe in just [doing] what you love, so that what I’m doing and in my shop I will represent this. I love dance. In my free time I like to go out and dance and go to the beach.

How many years have you worked with coffee or in the coffee industry?
Almost 8.

Before coffee, did you work in a different job or industry, or what did you study in school?
Before coffee, I studied culinary art. I love cook. I used to be in construction mill, restaurant service, on sales, and also I studied management.

How did you get started in coffee?
After working in many kitchens in very nice restaurants in Lima and Cusco, I realized that working in a kitchen is not what I like to do for life. I found that I didn’t enjoy it enough. So I was looking for a job (no kitchen anymore) and I found a barista job and there start all. When I saw a barista job I didn’t know nothing about it. On the other hand my grandparents had a coffee farm in the past, they just have coffee plants because they want to drink coffee. When I was a child I remember the delicious coffee that my grandmother made; she picked, dried, roasted, and prepared for us by herself. It was amazing because I travel frequently and help my grandmom doing her things and some of them was picking coffee or helping in the drying. When I got a job as a barista I connected all the points, and it made a lot of sense what I’m doing, and for sure the experience with my grandparents makes me respect coffee more.

What was your first amazing experience with coffee?
At my grandparents’ house in Piura, Perú. My grandmother picked, dried, roasted, and prepared coffee for us. I still remember this, it was so special.

Who has been your greatest influence in coffee? Why?
Scottie Callagan. This guy [doesn’t] just make a great coffee, he [is] developing and [sharing] in [an] amazing way what he learns. I [have] been learning a lot with him; his humanity is a great point.

What would you like to see change about the coffee industry/community?
1. I would really like to make this kind of big events in a producer countries, to connect a little more with small farmers and to promote the internal [consumption].
2. I would like to see some more producers that are cuppers and can control their own quality.
3. I would love to see soon more and more restaurants understand more about coffee as a part of the culinary experience and not just as a complement.

Name a coffee luminary (famous person) you would like to meet, and why:
Steve Leighton. I think he is very smart and loves coffee in a way that he can innovate, explore, and the most important thing is that he shares knowledge without thinking what comes with it.

Name a barista you admire, and why:
Thomas Schweiger: Because his simplicity on see the things, because he really believes in dreams, but not just that, if you want something, you should work hard, very hard.
He is working developing some processes in Perú, working very close with producers and he doesn’t mind if he should jump in a river to take a shower or so on. The way that he explores coffee, always thinking and being fair, always sharing new things, I have the oportunity to know him very closely and he really makes me see the things a little different.

Do you have a favorite customer? If so, tell us about him or her.
He is Renato. Renato is always open to try new coffee flavor, new technique; he trusts in me and I know what he likes and what he has never tried. Always his points of view and ideas to get better opportunities in coffee are awsome.

Besides your own cafe, what cafe do you think everyone should visit?
I don’t travel much but I think everybody should go to Handsome Coffee Roasters in L.A. and VIVA ESPRESSO in El Salvador.

Which coffee producing country you would like to visit, and why?
I would like to visit Kenya and Ethiopia.
1. Because this is where the coffee grew for the first time.
2. Because the process that they are making are always great.
3. I want to explore more [about] what makes the coffees from this lands soooo delicious.

What are your interests outside of coffee?
I would like to work a project with my family.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see my shop In Lima and Cusco; working very close to my team and producers of the best coffees in Perú; traveling a lot around the word learning more about coffee and sharing this with my community in Peru. I would like to make a coffee school in Cusco, to promote the production of specialty coffee, cupping, and the barista; a space to share all that I learn.

Is there anyone you would like to thank or who helped you prepare for the WBC?
Big thanks to Thomas Schweiger. He opened his door to me in a very nice and professional way and we will rock!! Thanks David Torres and Luis Sanches for the great suport in Lima.



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